Monday 22 August 2022

Almond and Pistachio Babka

I revisited our old friend the babka to test out the features on the new Kenwood Chef Patissier. A mid winter cold snap seemed the perfect time to try the dough proofing setting, and having a mixer that weighed and heated the dough was such a time saver. I find a stand mixer is indispensable for this style of dough, and the Kenwood was fabulous, the dough was perfectly silky and smooth, and even with a combined 20 minutes of kneading the mixer did not budge and inch. The bowl and attachments are huge, I'm keen to try a triple batch of pizza dough, its ages since we had a pizza night.  

I also tested out the nut chopper, a very handy little accessory that attaches to the high speed outlet. It was the perfect size for a handful nuts and came with 3 additional storage jars which made me disproportionally happy! It's the little things...

There are 3 parts to this babka, the dough, the filling, and the syrup. There are also 3 parts to the dough. It's a little fiddly but not difficult, and definitely worthwhile. There's a sponge, a portion of the flour and milk are mixed to a stiff paste with the yeast then left to ferment before the dough is mixed, the dough proofing feature was great here too. Using a sponge reduces the amount of yeast required, keeping the babka fresher for longer. Another portion of flour and milk are cooked on the stove until gelatinous and thick; this is the tangzhong method, a traditional asian technique that gives soft, fluffy airy bread. The third part combines the dough ingredients for kneading. Still with me? I hope so, it makes the softest dough, my son convinced me to make doughnuts with the last batch and they were incredible sugary pillows of joy! Back to the babka, if pistachios aren't your thing, try a chocolate hazelnut version. Replace the almond spread with your favourite chocolate hazelnut spread, and add a sprinkle of chopped hazelnuts in place of the pistachios, definitely my kids babka of choice.

Almond and Pistachio Babka


65g plain flour
60g milk
5g instant dry yeast


80g milk
20g plain flour


265g plain flour
60g milk
60g sugar
2 large eggs, approximately 100g
5g salt
60g butter, cut into 8 pieces, squidgy at room temperature


150g almond or pistachio spread
50g shelled pistachios


75g caster sugar
85g water

• combine the sponge ingredients in the warming bowl of the Kenwood Chef Patissier, run the dough proofing preset for 20 minutes
• while the sponge is proofing, put the tangzhong ingredients in a small pan, whisk until smooth, then continue to whisk over medium heat until smooth and thick, set aside to cool
• once the sponge is bubbly and puffed, add the tangzhong and the remaining dough ingredients, except the butter, to the warming bowl. Run the dough proofing preset for 10 minutes, until silky and smooth. Turn the speed back to low, add the butter a piece at a time, waiting until the butter has been completely incorporated before adding the next piece. Once all the butter has been added, run the dough proofing program for a further 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth, shiny and elastic
• turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, pat into a rectangle, cover and place in the fridge for an hour to firm up, the dough is very soft, chilling will make it easier to handle
• while the dough is chilling, use the nut chopper to finely chop 35g of the pistachios, roughly chop the remaining 15g and keep for later
• lightly flour your bench, remove the dough from the fridge, slide it onto the floured bench and roll to form a rectangle approximately 30cmm by 40cm
• spread the almond spread over the dough rectangle, leaving a 1cm border clear at the top of the 30cm edge, strew with the finely chopped pistachios
• using a pastry brush, lightly bush the 1cm border with water
• with the 30 cm edge closest to you, carefully roll the dough away from you, into a log shape, as if you are making a roulade or swiss roll 
• gently press along the damp edge to seal, trim the uneven ends, carefully lift onto a lined baking tray and put into the fridge for an hour to firm up, again this will make it easier to cut and shape
• while your babka is chilling, grease your loaf tin and line with baking paper
• once firm, using a sharp knife, cut the log in half lengthways to give you two long strips, see image above, turn the strips cut side up, place one over the other to form an X, then make a couple of twists with each end, try to keep the cut edge facing upwards
• lift your babka into the loaf tin, tucking the ends under, cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place to proof, you want the babka to almost double in size, it's ready when the dough springs back when gently pressed
• pre-heat your oven to 180ÂșC, bake the babka in the centre of the oven for 30-35 minutes; test with a skewer at 30 minutes, if the skewer can be pushed in and removed easily, and comes out clean the babka is ready, if not pop it back in the oven and re- test at approximately 3-5 minute intervals
• while the babka is baking, put the syrup ingredients into a small pan, stir over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and the syrup has thickened slightly
• remove the babka from the oven, place the tin on a wire rack, then brush all over with the syrup. It may seem like a lot of syrup, but that babka will soak it up
• allow to cool slightly, sprinkle the roughly chopped pistachios over top and enjoy, it's never better than warm from the oven
• leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 days

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